A memorial to former Abbotsford and RCMP police officer Shinder Kirk in Cedar, B.C. Kirk died in a car accident on Cedar Road in December 2018. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

A memorial to former Abbotsford and RCMP police officer Shinder Kirk in Cedar, B.C. Kirk died in a car accident on Cedar Road in December 2018. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Trial begins in Nanaimo for man involved in car crash that killed retired police sergeant

RCMP accident reconstructionist takes stand in trial of Conrad Nikolaus Wetten

A driver involved in a car crash in Cedar that killed a noted Lower Mainland police officer stood trial in provincial court in Nanaimo today, May 7.

Conrad Nikolaus Wetten was charged with driving a vehicle without due care and attention in a December 2018 car crash on Cedar Road. Shinder Kirk, who served as a police spokesperson for Abbotsford police department, as well as RCMP Integrated Gang Task Force and Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, died in the crash.

In the head-on collision Dec. 22, 2018, Kirk was driving a Chevy pickup and Wetten was driving a Ford pickup, approximately two kilometres from the Cedar Road-Nanaimo Parkway interchange.

Wetten and a female passenger suffered minor injuries, while two passengers with Kirk were airlifted to hospital with serious injuries. At the time, police said they did not believe alcohol or speed were contributing factors. It had been raining that day, according to witness testimony.

Among the people called to the stand by Ken Paziuk, Crown counsel, was expert witness Sgt. Brian Nightingale, an RCMP accident reconstructionist, who detailed the speed of the vehicles.

Nightingale said that the Chevy had an “event data recorder,” which is able to record certain information. It looks at the brake switch, grabs all data for five seconds before the crash, and all the other different devices, such as cruise control, revolutions per minute and speed of the vehicle, he said.

Nightingale said he had to make adjustments to his calculations, as the tires on the Chevy were a size smaller than what the original equipment manufacturer recommends, guessing that they were tires used in the winter. As such, Nightingale said the vehicle was going three per cent slower than what the speedometer showed.

The last data point, 0.5 seconds before impact, saw the Chevy going an estimated 54 kilometres an hour, Nightingale testified.

The Ford didn’t have an event data recorder, Nightingale said, but he was able to determine speed using a “momentum model,” taking in to account known speed of the Chevy, “post-collision travel distance of the two vehicles,” and the fact there could be a variation of 10-degrees in a head-on collision. According to Nightingale’s estimation, the Ford was going between 43-53 kilometres an hour.

Nightingale also referred to the accident as an offset head-on, as the vehicles were not “running their centre of mass along each other,” but rather “it was offset to the right-hand side of their movement.” When the two vehicles were making maximum contact, the front left corner of the first vehicle, contacted the front left corner of the second, leading to counter-clockwise rotation based on momentum, testified Nightingale, leading to the vehicles to be sideways in the roadway.

The trial was adjourned and a date to set continuation is expected to take place Tuesday, May 11.

Judge Karen Whonnock is presiding and David Brooks is Wetten’s legal representative.

RELATED: Nanaimo man charged in crash that killed retired police sergeant

RELATED: Retired Abbotsford police sergeant dies in head-on crash



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

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